The BBC documentary series Death of Yugoslavia is pretty great.
Recommended reading material (diverse explanations for the wars in the Balkans):
“I consider first the violent conflicts in Croatia and Bosnia. These were spawned not so much by the convulsive surging of ancient hatreds or by frenzies whipped up by demagogic politicians and the media as by the ministrations of small—sometimes very small—bands of opportunistic marauders recruited by political leaders and operating under their general guidance.
- James D. Fearon – Commitment Problems and the Spread of Ethnic Conflict (chapter in “The International Spread of Ethnic Conflict: Fear, Diffusion and Escalation” – a summary can be found here ):
Against the argument that the various ethnic groups in the former Yugoslavia had always hated each other, and that argument that ethnic elites polarized the masses, Fearon describes the polarization of the ethnic groups as driven by the commitment problem faced by Croats and Serbs in the new Croatian state. The Serb minority in this new state feared exploitation, and the Croat government had no way of guaranteeing its long-term well-being. Therefore, the Serb extremists who had been advocating for violent secession ultimately won out.
- Alan Kuperman – The Moral Hazard of Humanitarian Intervention: Lessons from the Balkans (note that this paper is fairly unconvincing and it has been heavily criticized):
The norm of humanitarian intervention “creates moral hazard that encourages the excessively risky or fraudulent behavior of rebellion by members of groups that are vulnerable to genocidal retaliation, but it cannot fully protect against the backlash. The emerging norm thereby causes some genocidal violence that otherwise would not occur. Bosnia and Kosovo illustrate that…”
The Croatian War was the result of a Security Dilemma
“Drawing on interviews with former military leaders, local and international officials, and in-country observers, I argue that the outbreak, persistence, termination, and aftermath of the 1992–1995 war cannot be explained without taking into account the critical role of smuggling practices and quasi-private criminal combatants.”
Gagnon challenges primordialist notions of ethnic violence by arguing that ethnonationalist feelings are created and mobilized by threatened elites. Given the costs of domestic ethnic violence, elites prefer to engage in conflict that takes places outside of the borders of their state. Thus, they minimize the costs to their key supporters who are located within the state. Gagnon examines the sources of ethnic conflict in Serbia, starting with the 1960’s and leading to the breakup of Yugoslavia.